Bartender Chat: Alex Gilbert of Grand Prize and The Honeymoon (Coming Soon)
Welcome to Eating...Our Words' Bartender Chat, in which we sit down with local bartenders and get to know their style. Whether they're slinging beers or mixing complex cocktails, bartenders are our buddies and confidants, but we're turning the tables and the camera on them to find out what they're passionate about and what makes them some of Houston's best.
Photos by Kaitlin Steinberg Don't ask him to mix up something crazy and creative. He's all about the classics.
Alex Gilbert is really excited about his new job. Later this spring, he'll be moving from his post as a bartender at Grand Prize to a new cafe/bar called The Honeymoon, located on the rapidly evolving block of 300 Main downtown.
It's a partnership between Brad Moore and Ryan Rouse (of Bad News Bar, Grand Prize and Goro & Gun) and the folks behind Boomtown Coffee, Matt Toomey and Charlotte Mitchell. The idea is to create a New Orleans vibe by combining a coffee shop with a bistro/cafe and a bar. The space will be NOLA-inspired, and judging by the awesome look of Goro & Gun and Bad News Bar (you're okay, too, Grand Prize), it should be a pretty cool space in which to eat and drink the day away.
Gilbert has been brushing up on his classic New Orleans cocktails in preparation for the move. He's been working on perfecting his Sazerac, often thought of as the oldest cocktail in America. As of 2008, it's also the official cocktail of Louisiana.
In case you're wondering, Texas doesn't have an official cocktail. We don't even have an official beverage. But that's neither here nor there.
Part-time musician Gilbert is looking forward to the move downtown and the opportunity to flex his classic cocktail skills. Though if you ask him what he wants to drink, he'll probably just order a beer.
How long have you been at Grand Prize?
Almost exactly one year.
How long have you been bartending?
About four years. Off and on. I moved back from NYC after an unsuccessful brief stint looking for work. It didn't work out very well. Never move to New York during winter. Any idiot would know that. My friend Claire Sprouse, who's actually a bigshot bar person in San Francisco now, was the bar manager Beaver's. I started on as a bar back, and when someone didn't show up for work one day, I became a bartender. I knew what I was doing pretty well by that point, but it was still trial by fire.
How did you end up at Grand Prize?
I had done a bunch of other things and was back at Beaver's, and I got a call from Brad and Ryan one day. They offered me the position, and I was totally happy to accept. I knew I really wanted to work with those guys, and I knew this would be a great opportunity for us to get to know each other. I had hoped we could work together in the future, and I'm really excited to be moving on to The Honeymoon.
If you weren't bartending, what would you be doing?
I play music. I'm in a band called Far Out. I sing and play guitar. It's sort of like a power pop trio. I would like to have all the time in the world to do that. I'm hoping to open a business sometime in the near future, the details of which I will not mention now. I'm really looking forward to having something of my own.
The story continues on the next page.